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Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex in Cats

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine ; Paul Gibbs, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS, Professor Emeritus, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bernard Mignon, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, University of Liège ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD

Also see professional content regarding eosinophilic granuloma complex.

This group of skin conditions affects cats, dogs, and horses. Eosinophilic granuloma complexes have varying signs but seem to be caused most commonly by an allergic hypersensitivity.

In cats, 3 diseases have been grouped in this complex. Eosinophilic ulcers are well-defined, red, skin ulcers, usually not painful or itchy. They are most commonly found on the upper lip. Progression to squamous cell carcinoma is extremely rare, although it can occur. Eosinophilic plaque, a well-defined, red, raised wound, is most commonly found on the belly and thighs. It is extremely itchy, and cats will scratch and rub the affected sites. These lesions are often infected with bacteria, which usually make this condition worse. Eosinophilic granulomas are raised, circular, yellowish to pink nodules. They may be found anywhere on the body but are most common on the head, face, bridge of the nose, ears, paw pads, lips, chin, mouth, and thighs. Linear lesions are found most often on the thighs but have been seen on other body locations.

This complex can be due to insects, dietary and environmental allergies, infectious agents, and genetic or hereditary factors. Allergies should be investigated by allergy testing and dietary elimination trials. Some cases will be better defined by having additional laboratory testing performed, including skin cytology, cultures, and skin biopsies. All forms of this complex can often benefit from antibiotic treatment. Many treatment options exist depending on the underlying cause. In cases where the underlying problem cannot be identified or controlled, treatment with corticosteroids or cyclosporine many be required.